I didn’t know anything about the real-life story going in, so this was already set out to be an interesting experience. Basically, the story’s about an automotive car designer Carroll Shelby (played by Matt Damon, charming+committed), teaming up with a British racer (Christian Bale, also charming+committed to the role, if not even more so!) to help design a revolutionary vehicle for Ford Motor Company. Crucially, within that there’s also the idea to have it compete against the Ferrari company during a 24 Hours French racing event. And for perspective, this all takes place during 1966, which pre-Internet could only have made the event all the more interesting!
But what’s Le Mans 66′ – the UK’s title, like as a film itself? It’s definitely entertaining, and you feel enough drama leading up to the marathon, especially in regards to Bale’s character as he tries balancing ambition with his family, meaning his wife (played by Caitriona Balfe) and son (Noah Jupe). This is where I have one particular criticism, actually. Although it’s a bit clichéd to talk in relation to these types of films frankly, Balfe feels like she doesn’t have lots to do other than be a supportive wife and mother, generally speaking.
Another “criticism” is when the marathon itself happens, it’s sensational and everything but I couldn’t help sensing there were too many stops and starts pacing-wise, weirdly. It must be hard to balance pacing across a sequence such as this, but I wish it could have felt more natural, rather than just the fault of a “Hollywood” third act.
In the end however, crucially, Damon and Bale excel. Shout out too to the director, James Mangold. Although it for sure feels like a so-called Hollywood sensational real-life drama, he manipulates the film with enough skill that Le Mans 66′ ends up meriting the good attention it’s had so far. So for example, I’m also pleased it’s doing well at the box office 😀.